Photo: John Tyson
We joined Thames 21 for the Big Bottle Count on Saturday 2 September. We picked up and counted plastic bottles, clear bottles for still water, fizzy drinks bottles, and milk bottles. Then we picked up a lot of plastic, mostly brightly coloured broken fragments gleaming against the pebbles and gravel. Here's a list of some of the things we found...
lids of every colour
sweet and chocolate wrappers
bright blue cocktail straws
wrappers for juicebox straws
small baggies, some with leaf prints
flimsy white cutlery
flimsy black cutlery
ketchup dip pots
white disposable cups in shreds
corks, candles, clumps of bubblewrap
a purple cuddly toy from Macdonalds
a lego figure of Marge Simpson, blue hair flying high
a table football player, headless
fake seaweed for an aquarium
stalks from Remembrance Day poppies
stoppers, plugs, plant labels, cable ties, rawlplugs
washers, spacers, protectors, extenders
a three gallon tub labelled Wessex Chemicals
broken bits of hard white expanded polystyrene
burger boxes of shiny gold expanded polystyrene
yellow-brown expandable foam filler in rounded blobs
white packing noodles
a small green cog from a spirograph
something half-electronic, half-textile screwed to a lump of tarmac
part of a sign showing the letter 'A'
a fairy thimble or a foot for a clothes airer
a small yellow bouncy ball
lilac and silver gift wrap ribbon
a necklace of coloured beads
blister packs for disposable contact lenses
tampon applicators: white, turquoise and royal blue
cotton bud sticks
tubes of lip salve, eye drops, moisturiser
dummies, combs, toothbrushes...
It was satisfying to see the difference we'd made to one small section of the river, returned to the soft colours of sand, stone and driftwood. But the next tide will dump another pile of plastic on the shore, and that's just a small fraction of what's washed out to sea. The solution has to start with reducing single use plastics, better recycling and deposit schemes. You can find out more (and pledge to use a refillable water bottle) through the #OneLess campaign.
Thanks to all the Green volunteers from Southwark, and to Silvia for coordinating at Millwall Dock. Drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to join our next clean up.